Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) has a long public track record of positions on issues regarding education. As he gears up for his second run at the Republican nomination for president, some analysis of those positions is warranted.
School Performance and curriculum
Governor Romney openly supports an increase is overall standards for education and says that if he were elected in 2012, he would push for quality-based incentives for teachers. He has stated that he would begin by identifying and cataloging which schools in the country are working and which are not. The term Gov. Romney most often uses in this context is “accountability.” He is a proponent of school vouchers on a wide-scale level across the country, and is open about his desire to all students – regardless of their ethnicity – immersed in English-language education.
Romney has actively supported private and government efforts to increase merit scholarships for high school students. He has supported the idea to not only reform under-performing schools, but replace them with charter schools.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney supported means-tested vouchers for public and private schools. He has opposed efforts to teach creationism in schools, but believes that there should be more of an emphasis on family values in the educational system. Along those same lines, Romney has supported efforts to fund nanotechnology and materials science education.
Romney has said that science-based sex education has no place in kindergarten. According to Romney, “The amount of sex education which is appropriate in kindergarten is absolutely zero.”
Federal-level involvement in education
Romney currently supports the federal government’s involvement in education and would keep in place the No Child Left Behind act created under President Bush in 2001. In a 2007 presidential debate, Romney said that he supports testing in schools and that testing “allows us to get better schools.” He also approved efforts in Massachusetts to require parents in poorly performing schools to attend parental education classes. This plan would also include the awarding of four-year scholarships to the best students. In an interview with The Concord Monitor, Romney also said he favors paying bonuses to teachers who “successfully teach.” In his 1994 run for the Senate, Romney supported abolishing the Department of Education but has since walked those remarks back.
In the second 2007 presidential debate in South Carolina, he said:
“I’ve taken a position where, once upon a time, I said I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education. That was my position when I ran for Senate in 1994. That’s very popular with the base. As I’ve been a governor and seen the impact that the federal government can have holding down the interest of the teachers’ unions and instead putting the interests of the kids and the parents and the teachers first, I see that the Department of Education can actually make a difference.”
Romney believes that a proper role for government in encouraging economic growth is ensuring that students receive the best education possible. After fostering a highly-educated workforce and lowering taxes, he asserts that the “best thing the country can do is unleash the power of entrepreneurs and get out of the way.”
Ways To Improve Education
In 1994 Romney, as a candidate for U.S. Senate, pledged to vote to establish a means-tested school voucher program to allow students to attend the public or private school of their choice. Romney has stated that superintendents and principals should be able to fire teachers without regard for seniority. He also has stated that he is in favor of standardized testing as a high school graduation requirement and alternative education options for parents and students. He has declared his support for charter schools, school vouchers and home schooling. Romney has said that good education is needed to compete in the global economy.